NASHVILLE (CN) – The state of Tennessee and a tobacco manufacturer swapped lawsuits over allegations that Grand River Enterprises Six Nations underreported cigarette sales in violation of a master settlement agreement between 46 states and major tobacco manufacturers.
In a federal complaint, Grand River says Tennessee officials threatened to remove it and its Seneca brand of cigarettes from the state’s tobacco products directory, despite having no proof that its distributor, J&E Distributors, underreported sales, leading the tobacco company to shortchange the state escrow fund by $2.8 million. Grand River adds that “no court has found that Grand River violated the Tobacco Settlement Act.”
The state, through Attorney General Robert Cooper, maintains that Grand River and J&E Distributors violated the law. “This investigation uncovered evidence that Defendant J&E intentionally underreported the number of Grand River’s cigarettes sold in Tennessee,” the state claims in Superior Court. “There is reason to believe that Grand River had knowledge that J&E was underreporting sales of Grand River manufactured products.”
The state seeks to enjoin Grand River from selling cigarettes in Tennessee for up to two years, while Grand River wants a declaration that such an injunction or removal from the directory would violate its constitutional rights.
Grand River is represented by Taylor, Pigue, Marchetti & Mink.
Cooper had the help of John Sinclair Jr. and Rebekah Baker.